U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Office of Community Planning and Development

Consolidated Plan Contact


Fort Wayne, population 173,072, is an industrial city in northeastern Indiana. Fort Wayne's economy is recovering after suffering tremendous unemployment and economic dislocation in the early 1980s when labor strife culminated in the departure of the largest employer, International Harvester. The recovery bypassed many residents of the inner city. The result is a lower tax base to support a population that needs more social services. It is this condition that the city's Consolidated Plan addresses.

Action Plan

The Fort Wayne Consolidated Plan is written on the assumption that no urban problem is remote from another. The strategies and action discussed in this plan are intended to provide a seamless approach to addressing the priority needs identified in the planning process. The plan calls for the use of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for housing and services, the HOME program, and Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG) for the homeless.

Citizen Participation

In developing the Consolidated Plan, staff of the Community Development Projects Office and other collaborating city agencies met with representatives of the Public Housing Authority, social service providers, coalitions of organizations assisting homeless populations, and foundations. They consulted with such community groups as the Citizens Advisory Committee, which advises on issues involving CDBG; the Head Start Policy Council; current and former residents of Vincent House, a homeless facility; and focus groups from lower-income neighborhoods.


Although the Harvester plant that once anchored Fort Wayne's industrial base is gone, manufacturing is still a mainstay of Fort Wayne's economy, employing nearly 40,000 people. Among its largest employers are Dana Corporation; Essex Group, Inc.; ITT Aerospace/Optical Division; and Magnavox Electronic Systems.

A growing service sector is an increasingly important part of the local economy. Insurance and banking employ a significant number of workers. Allen County's largest employer, Lincoln National Corporation headquartered in Fort Wayne, provides insurance and financial services. Changes in Indiana's banking laws in the past decade have stimulated growth in that industry and made Fort Wayne a regional banking center for northeastern Indiana. The largest Indiana-owned bank in the State is Fort Wayne National Bank.



The largest concentration of low- and very low-income residents is in inner-city neighborhoods. As the focus of efforts, the city planning department has identified an area containing most of the census tracts where over half of the population is of low-, very low-, or extremely low-income. This area is referred to as the Sub-Area. African Americans make up 13 percent of Fort Wayne's population but are disproportionately represented in the very low- and extremely low-income categories.

The city recognizes two tiers of racial concentration. These are neighborhoods where the minority population is higher than the city average yet less than half of the area population, and areas where over half the population is minority. These neighborhoods have experienced a high degree of disinvestment resulting in increased crime and vacancy rates, as well as decreases in housing units and households. These neighborhoods contain a significant number of rental units, frequently owned by absentee landlords.

Housing Needs

Although Fort Wayne's housing prices are relatively low -- averaging $85,749 in 1993 -- buying a home can be difficult for first-time homebuyers, particularly low- and very low-income families. This is due to comparatively high rents that can prevent families from accumulating savings for downpayments. Other deterrents are credit problems, inability to afford mortgage payments, and financial burdens of maintenance.

While only 12 percent of all owner households in Fort Wayne have housing problems (substandard, overcrowded, or costing over 30 percent of income), 44 percent of the extremely low- and very low-income owner households have such problems. More than 1,500 homeowners pay more than 50 percent of their household income for housing.

Thirty-six percent of occupied rental properties have housing problems -- one in every seven Fort Wayne households. More than 3,900 renter households have a housing cost burden exceeding 50 percent of their income. Approximately 73 percent of extremely low- and very low-income renters have housing problems. Rental assistance programs administered by the Fort Wayne Housing Authority are insufficient to meet the needs of these households.

Housing Market Conditions

As noted above, the average purchase price for a home in Allen County in 1993 was $85,749. This was up from $75,251 in 1991, but still lower than in many other parts of the country. For moderate- to middle-income families, the Fort Wayne housing market can be generally characterized as affordable.

Affordable Housing Needs

Affordability as a factor in both renting and homeownership is discussed in the previous section. The relationship of housing affordability to the limited job choices open to many lower-income households is discussed under "Community Development Needs."

Homeless Needs

There is no definitive count of homeless persons in Fort Wayne. The most recent homeless survey, conducted by Catholic Charities in 1990, estimated that there were approximately 1,337 homeless people in Allen County. Ninety-seven were youths and 1,240 were adults. St. Mary's soup kitchen serves about 1,500 lunches daily, which indicates the number of homeless persons has increased since 1990.

Approximately 63 percent of the homeless in Fort Wayne are unsheltered. The majority of these are adults but the number of unsheltered homeless families has almost reached the same level. Thirty to 45 percent of the adult homeless population are veterans and 10 percent of these suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Supportive housing facilities are generally at capacity every night. This is because there are no affordable rental or homeowner units available, particularly for homeless families.

Nearly a third of the very low-income households in Fort Wayne are overcrowded. About 26 percent of the large-family renter households are overcrowded. These households are at risk of becoming homeless as they may not have means for alternative housing should they be forced out of their current living situations. The 3,662 families in Fort Wayne living below the poverty level are at risk of becoming homeless, as are many single-headed households.

Public and Assisted Housing Needs

Two of the Housing Authority's public housing sites require extensive infrastructure and building improvements. Its scattered-site dwellings need drainage improvements, walkways, landscaping, and security fencing. Increases in crime, particularly drug-related crime, and vandalism have made residents feel unsafe and have resulted in property damage at some sites.

Barriers to Affordable Housing

Barriers to affordable housing are primarily economic ones. The typical wage scales for jobs that are available -- in terms of skill level and geographic access -- to lower-income residents do not enable them to pay fair market rentals or to meet requirements for mortgages. This barrier is discussed more fully under "Community Development Needs."

Fair Housing

The Fort Wayne Metropolitan Human Relations Commission (Metro) handles complaints of discrimination under the authority of a local ordinance and, in some instances, Federal policy. Before 1988, HUD designated Metro as "substantially equivalent" to HUD for purposes of investigating housing complaints for which HUD has jurisdiction -- a procedure known as "dual file." With passage of the 1988 Federal Fair Housing Act prohibiting discrimination based on "familial status" (children in a household) or disability, Fort Wayne's Metro was no longer "substantially equivalent."

Subsequently, Indiana and Fort Wayne updated their fair housing laws to include the same additional protected classes as Federal law. Metro has made HUD-requested amendments to its regulations pursuant to reinstatement of "substantially equivalent" status and expects to enter into a 2-year interim agreement. If Metro's interim performance is satisfactory, it will receive certification and, as before 1988, investigate discrimination complaints, receive appropriate payment from HUD for doing so, and maintain dual files with HUD.

Lead-Based Paint

Based on calculations used by the National Center for Lead-Safe Housing, about 78 percent (27,467) of Fort Wayne houses built before 1980 and occupied by very low- and low-income families are likely to contain lead-based paint. It is likely that such paint is present in 72 percent (17,222) of rental units occupied by families with those income levels.

A Fort Wayne lead-screening program ended in 1993, when State funds that supported it were shifted to an immunization program. The Board of Health tests homes for lead levels, but tests only the homes of children who have been diagnosed as having elevated blood lead levels. The Board of Health's testing equipment is shared by eight other counties in northern Indiana.

Community Development Needs

The highest nonhousing community development priorities of neighborhood associations and social service agency clients are economic development, job training and availability, public safety, code enforcement, and infrastructure improvement. The two groups differ in the ranking of these needs with the associations favoring infrastructure improvements and very low-income groups placing a higher priority on job creation and crime reduction.

Low-income Fort Wayne residents face a mismatch between the limited skills they possess and those needed by most employers. Employers report that new jobs are being created in many sectors, ranging from services to industrial. The unemployment rate for Allen County in June, 1994, was 4.4 percent; for the Fort Wayne Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) the rate was 4.2 percent.

The skills/jobs mismatch is dramatically documented by the fact that of thousands of jobs created in an Enterprise Zone encompassing many of Fort Wayne's low-income areas, less than 7 percent are held by zone residents. This has occurred despite concerted efforts by the Urban Enterprise Association to place zone residents in these jobs, and despite tax breaks available to both residents and businesses in the zone.


The Community Development Projects Office (CDPO), which administers the CDBG and HOME programs, is the lead agency for the Consolidated Plan. CDPO is a department of the city Division of Community and Economic Development (C&ED). This division's Housing and Neighborhood Development Services (HANDS) is responsible for owner-occupied and rental housing rehabilitation activities, primarily focusing on central Fort Wayne. The Fort Wayne Housing Authority administers the HUD Comprehensive Grant Program and Section 8 certificates and vouchers.


Getting and keeping a job is a high priority for Fort Wayne's lower-income workers, many of whom lack the skills for some better-paying jobs. These unskilled workers also contend with another kind of mismatch. Their wages don't match their expenses. This mismatch underscores the strong relationship between housing issues and community development issues, especially those issues revolving around economic trends in a community.

The estimated average wage for jobs created with investments by the city's Community Development Corporation is $5 to $6 an hour. It is unknown what percentage of these jobs provide health insurance, child care assistance, or other benefits. Thirty percent of monthly gross income for a person working full-time at $5 per hour is $260. Fair market rents for the Fort Wayne MSA are $466 for a two-bedroom apartment and $601 for a three-bedroom apartment. Clearly, these rents are not affordable to a household with these hourly rates. Given that many very low-income households are headed by a single female, her family would still be in severe poverty even if she worked two full-time jobs.

Projections in Fort Wayne's application for funding of an Enterprise Community (an expansion of the existing Enterprise Zone) give hope that this project will generate industrial jobs with wages as high as $7 an hour.

Housing Priorities

Fort Wayne is committed to development and rehabilitation of affordable housing, supportive housing facilities, and quality neighborhoods. The city recognizes that these three priorities are not always easily compatible and seeks to find a balance among them.

For example, many central city neighborhoods oppose the siting of additional group homes for mentally ill people or recovering substance abusers in their neighborhoods. They greet proposals for such facilities with complaints, including impact on property values and more congestion. This puts them at an impasse with group home advocates who believe that appropriate operation and supervision will prevent the results neighbors fear. Controversy over zoning regulations pertaining to group homes has been resolved by a compromise that permits such facilities in single-family districts with approval by the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Nonhousing Community Development Priorities

Although Fort Wayne's overall crime rate and violent crime rate have declined each year since 1991, public safety is a high priority with the city's residents. Apprehension is fueled in part by the dramatic increase in the homicide rate during 1993 and 1994 and that crime among juveniles has risen more than 300 percent since 1984. The majority of shootings occur in neighborhoods with high concentrations of low- and very low-income persons. Therefore, the Fort Wayne Police Department moved its headquarters to one of these neighborhoods.

Concern about crime culminated in 1994 in formation of a Citizens Panel on Violence and Youth. The panel's findings led to formation of an on-going Leadership Roundtable on Violence and Youth. It is made up of elected officials of city, county, townships, and school districts and is chaired by a non-elected community leader. A series of action panels are charged with overseeing specific activities. Their accomplishments include:

The Board of Public Works has established infrastructure priorities based on views expressed in neighborhood meetings and responses to a needs survey:

Flood mitigation was not considered a high priority among participants but public works officials feel steps must be taken to reduce flooding in areas where the St. Joseph and St. Mary's rivers meet to join the Maumee River, creating a 10.6-square-mile flood plain.

Housing and Community Development Resources

Federal, State, and local resources will be combined with significant private resources to carry out the Consolidated Plan. Federal resources include CDBG, HOME, ESG, cities, and nonprofit service providers, Section 8 rental assistance, and HUD's Comprehensive Grant Program, which the Housing Authority uses for rehabilitation of publicly owned units and for resident initiative programs. These resources are supplemented by county and city general funds. County economic development income tax credits are used for capital improvement projects.

Additional funds are provided by a panoply of local, private foundations providing funds for housing, social service programs, and historical and cultural activities.


Description of Key Projects

Fort Wayne has designed 10 strategies for its first-year action plan:

Strategy 1. Increase production of affordable housing. Priorities vary among neighborhoods. The overall focus is on rehabilitation, but new construction will be undertaken in certain areas.

Strategy 2. Enhance economic opportunity for low- and very low-income households. The city will pursue economic development opportunities on a community-wide basis in partnership with community action groups and lending institutions. It will also support targeted activities for specific lower-income groups including job training, microenterprises, and minority business enterprise recruitment. A key component of this strategy is establishment of a Job Training Institute to closely match job training with employer needs.

Strategy 3. Enhance the continuum of care for people who are homeless or at high risk of becoming homeless. The city will work with homeless service providers such as Common Ground, to help resolve tenant-landlord problems, and the Homeless Coalition, which will study the feasibility of establishing a Drop-In Center providing immediate shelter, food, and referral.

Strategy 4. Obtain "substantially equivalent" status for the Metropolitan Human Relations Commission (Metro) and continue education/outreach efforts to reduce housing discrimination.

Strategy 5. Coordinate social service activities to increase incomes and enhance self-sufficiency of very low-income households. This activity is an anti-poverty strategy. Social services are coordinated through two primary vehicles: the Step Ahead Council of Allen County and the Human Services Collaborators' Council.

Strategy 6. Improve procedures for abating lead-based paint. The city will undertake activities to increase public awareness of the hazards of lead-based paint and assist the Fort Wayne-Allen County Board of Realtors in producing information on this hazard for prospective homebuyers.

Strategy 7. Improve the condition of the city's infrastructure. Using a variety of funding sources, the city Engineering and Street Departments will improve approximately 18 to 20 miles of streets annually over the next 3 years. Utilities improvements will include separation of sanitary and storm sewers, upgrading existing lines, and maintenance activities.

Strategy 8. Continue flood control and mitigation efforts. The city will continue flood-mitigation work started in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers after a major flood in 1991.

Strategy 9. Improve the safety of neighborhoods by implementing community-oriented policing and community-oriented government. This would enable police to identify places or people likely to be involved in criminal activity and resolve local problems, or enlist the help of an appropriate local agency to solve them. To support police officers in serving the public and in many non-criminal functions, four area partnerships have been formed. Each area partnership is made up of 29 to 60 neighborhood associations.

Strategy 10. Empower community organizations to deliver services, where appropriate. This strategy, begun in 1994, is closely related to the community-oriented government approach. One solid waste clean-up program illustrates one of its methods: Neighborhood associations are paid 50 cents per automobile tire removed from their area.


The partnerships described above represent all four quadrants of the city. Section 8 housing is scattered throughout the city with heavier concentration in the south-central area. The Housing Authority's conventional projects are more widely scattered than such projects are in many cities.


MAP 1 depicts points of interest in the jurisdiction.

MAP 2 depicts points of interest and low-moderate income areas.

MAP 3 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and minority concentration levels.

MAP 4 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and unemployment levels.

MAP 5 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.

MAP 6 is a map, sectioned by neighborhood, which depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.

MAP 7 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within one of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.

MAP 8 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects within another of the four neighborhoods indicated in MAP 6.

MAP 9 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded project(s) from a street level vantage point; as well as, provides a table with information about the project(s).

To comment on Fort Wayne's Consolidated Plan, please contact Karen Goldner at 219-427-1140.
Return to Indiana's Consolidated Plans.